Special Collection

Special Collection: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls


This Special Collection is developed to highlight the issues, concerns, reccomendations and resources for addressing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) within our communities. The Special Collection organizes information, resources, tips and curricula drawn from the wealth of information gathered from partner organizations, experts from the field, and other allies from the web. More specifically, this toolkit will house resources on cultural issues, national sources, statistics, topical issues and approaches, existing programs, and available material and resources to create awareness and promote important discussions about MMIWG. This collection will expand as resources and new information become available. 

*Artwork by Joanne Brings Thunder www.jbringsthunder.com


The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center’s (NIWRC) Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Special Collection is designed to provide a collection of resources to address the issues of MMIWG.  It is intended to assist readers locate advocates, information to share with professionals, schools, or resources to use for their own outreach projects.  In addition, those in our communities can use this special collection to learn about MMIWG.

This Special Collection is primarily designed for domestic violence programs, sexual assault programs, sex trafficking programs, tribal coalitions, tribal leaders, educators, advisors, and community members to obtain resources, education and other materials to use in their delivery of services.  In addition, families of the missing and murdered Indigenous women & girls may access this toolkit directly.

NIWRC Downloadable Toolkit

“Tribal Community Response When a Woman Is Missing: A Toolkit for Action.”

Coping with the disappearance of a loved one or community member is very difficult. The fact that American Indian and Alaska Native women experience higher rates of domestic violence and sexual assault than any other population of women in the United States has broad ramifications. One consequence of this reality is that domestic and sexual violence occurs on a spectrum of abusive behavior and can include abduction and murder. If a woman you know is missing, taking immediate action is very important. The quicker you respond, the faster she may be located and provided the help needed.



NIWRC Webnar & Slide Deck

“Effective Use of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS) for Case Resolution.”

The number of missing and unidentified persons in the United States poses one of the biggest challenges to law enforcement, medical examiners, and coroners tasked with resolving these important cases.  The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) is a national information clearinghouse and resource center which offers technology, forensic services, and investigative support to help resolve cases.  Funded by the National Institute of Justice and managed through a cooperative agreement with the UNT Health Science Center, NamUs offers all services at no cost to agencies or families of the missing.  The online NamUs databases are accessible to all, with secure case information accessible only to registered and vetted criminal justice users.  Forensic odontology and fingerprint examination are offered through NamUs to support case comparisons, and DNA analyses and forensic anthropology services are offered through affiliated UNT Center for Human Identification laboratories.  This webinar will focus on how technology can be a valuable resource to tribal nations working to build their capacity to respond to missing and murdered Indigenous peoples, and case studies will be provided to illustrate the effectiveness of the NamUs databases and forensic services.

BJ Spamer, Director/Forensic & Analytic Services/NamUS

Gwendolyn Packard, Facilitator


NIWRC Webinar & Slide Deck

“Tribal Access Project (TAP) for National Crime Information.”

Tribal Access Project: Information Sharing and Access to Federal Databases. Tribes can more effectively serve and protect victims of domestic and sexual violence by having full access to critical data across the Criminal Justice Information Services systems and other national criminal information systems. This webinar session will provide an update on the Tribal Access Project (TAP) that the U.S. Department of Justice launched to support tribal efforts to have orders of protection enforced outside their reservations, keep guns out of the wrong hands, register sex offenders, and allow tribes to have tribal arrests and tribal convictions be associated with their tribe. Presenters: Bradley Colquitt, TAP Business Relationship Manager.


NIWRC Webinar & Slide Deck

“Missing and Murdered Native Women-Public Awareness Efforts.”

In 2005, the national movement for the safety of Native women led the struggle to include in the Violence Against Women Act a separate title for Native women called Safety for Native Women. One of the findings that justified creation of the title was that during the period of 1979 through 1992, homicide was the third-leading cause of death of Indian females aged 15 to 34, and 75 percent were killed by family members or acquaintances. Since that time, a study by the U.S. Department of Justice has found that in some tribal communities, American Indian women face murder rates that are more than 10 times the national average. Since 2005, there has been increased awareness of the pattern of the disappearance of Native women and the failure of the criminal justice system to adequately respond to the crisis. This webinar is designed to provide an overview and discussion of this crisis and the importance of increased public awareness. The Native Women’s Association of Canada will share lessons from its Sisters in Spirit awareness and organizing efforts. Terri Henry will share efforts and the importance of creating a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls in the United States.


NIWRC Webinar & Slide Deck

“Missing and Murdered Native Women.” (September 9th, 2014)


NIWRC Webinar & Slide Deck

“Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men: 2010 Findings From The National Intimate Partner And Sexual Violence Survey.” (May 18, 2016)

NIWRC is excited to announce a webinar on Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men. Few estimates are available to describe the prevalence of violence experienced by American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) women and men. In addition, these estimates are often based on local rather than national samples. The few available national estimates are often based on very small samples. These small samples do not always accurately represent the AI and AN population in the United States. This study provides the first set of estimates from a national large-scale survey of victimization among self-identified AI and AN men and women on psychological aggression, coercive control and entrapment, physical violence, stalking, and sexual violence, using detailed behaviorally specific questions. These results are expected to raise awareness and understanding of violence experienced by AI and AN people. The webinar also will highlight the need for additional services that are needed for AI and AN victims of crime—a need that has been persistently noted but lacked the research to support efforts to increase resources or allocate them appropriately.

PRESENTED BY: Dr. André B. Rosay, Director Justice Center, University of Alaska Anchorage


NIWRC’s Call to Action Sign On to Support May 5th as the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls

“Call to Action- We Need Your Voice!”

A National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls will 1) help shed light on the countless tragedies involving our Native sisters 2) honor their lives, and 3) highlight the need for ongoing grassroots organizing for change at the tribal, state and federal levels of laws, policies/protocols, and allocation of resources to end these injustices. We are calling on all those concerned for the safety of Native women to organize at the local, tribal, state, national, and international levels to support a 2018 National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. Native women need action now.

We are calling on all those concerned for the safety of Native women to join this effort! Please follow the link below to support the resolution and development of tribal responses and advocacy, and tell Congress enough is enough.


NIWRC Pouhana O Na Wahine MMIW Video

“Pouhana O Na Wahine National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Native Women 2018” (May 7th 2018)

Pouhana O Na Wahine photographs promoting wearing red and raising awareness of MMIW on social media.


NIWRC Akiak Native Community MMIW Video

“Akiak Native Community In Support of a National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Native Women and Girls 2018” (May 7th 2018)

Akiak Native Community photographs promoting wearing red and raising awareness of MMIW on social media.


NIWRC Video for May 5th Campaign

“#MMIW Campaign on May 5th 2018, National Day of Awareness” (May 5th 2018)

NIWRC Staff & Board of Directors photographs promoting wearing red and raising awareness of MMIW on social media.


NIWRC MMIW Public Awareness Video

“Shawl Squares for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls in Pala, CA” (May 3rd, 2018)

In April 2018, the NIWRC collaborated with the Pala Band of Mission Indians, Avellaka Program & Rebecca Nagle on creating shawl squares with messages of protecting Native women and girls who go missing and murdered in the United States.


NIWRC MMIW Digital Postcards

Wear Red for MMIW Digital Postcards and share on your social media with hashtags: #MMIW, #MMIWG, #WhyWeWearRed #VAWA4MMIW.

MMIW Youth Postcard

NIWRC Video for May 5th Campaign

“Join Us Today for a Day of Action to Support a National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women” (May 5th 2017)

NIWRC Staff & Board of Directors photographs promoting wearing red and raising awareness of MMIW on social media.


NIWRC Video on MMIW Hill Briefing

“2017 Hill Briefing: Efforts to Increase Awareness on Missing & Murdered Native Women & Girls.” (May 3rd 2017)

A Congressional Briefing in cooperation with Senator Lisa Murkowski on Efforts to Increase Awareness of Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls. Co-sponsored by the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center, Indian Law Resource Center & Alaska Native Women's Resource Center.


S.Res.144 - A resolution designating May 5, 2019, as the "National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls" (April 4 2019)


S. Res. 60- A resolution designating May 5, 2017, as the “National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls” (February 13, 2017)


Natural Resource Committee Video & Resource Page

“Subcommittee Hearing: Unmasking the Hidden Crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW): Exploring Solutions to End the Cycle of Violence” (March 14th, 2019)

The Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States will hold an oversight hearing on “Unmasking the Hidden Crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW): Exploring Solutions to End the Cycle of Violence.”

Majority Witnesses

Sarah Deer, Muscogee (Creek) Nation (testimony)

International & Interdisciplinary Studies - Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, School of Public Affairs & Administration, Professor, University of Kansas

Ruth Buffalo Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (testimony)

Representative, North Dakota House of Representatives

Mary Kathryn Nagle, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (testimony)

Legal Counsel, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC)

Tami Jerue, Anvik Tribe (testimony)

Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center


Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing

“Missing and Murdered: Confronting the Silent Crisis in Indian Country.” (December 12, 2018)

Mr. Charles Addington, Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services, Washington, DC (Testimony)

Mr. Robert Johnson, Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division

Federal Bureau of Investigations, Pittsburgh, PA (Testimony)

Mr. Gerald LaPorte, Director, Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences, National Institute of Justice, Washington, DC (Testimony)

The Honorable Amber Crotty, Delegate, Navajo Nation Council, Window Rock, AZ (Testimony)

Ms. Patricia Alexander, Co-Chair, VAW Taskforce, Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Juneau, AK (Testimony)

Ms. Kimberly Loring-Heavy Runner, Missoula, MT (Testimony)


National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUS)

Nationwide information clearinghouse offering free, secure, easy-to-use, online technology to help expedite case associations and resolutions.

Free-of-charge forensic services including forensic odontology and fingerprint examination, as well as forensic anthropology and DNA analyses through the UNT Center for Human Identification laboratories.

Investigative support from seasoned staff who provide case consultations and support criminal justice efforts to drive missing and unidentified person case resolutions.

Training and outreach from NamUs subject matter experts, including assistance with planning and facilitating Missing Person Day events across the country.


Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Database on the Sovereign Bodies Institute

“MMIW Database”

 The Database originally included cases from the US and Canada, but starting in 2019, we have expanded its reach to include all Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people. We will continue to pursue archival research in the US and Canada, and will rely on partnerships with Indigenous women’s collectives and organizations in other regions to include our sisters indigenous to lands occupied by other colonial entities.


Report from Urban Indian Health Institute

“Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls: A snapshot of data from 71 urban cities in the United States.” (2018)

In 2017, Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI), a tribal epidemiology center, began a study aimed at assessing the number and dynamics of cases of missing and murdered American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls in cities across the United States. This study sought to assess why obtaining data on this violence is so difficult, how law enforcement agencies are tracking and responding to these cases, and how media is reporting on them. The study’s intention is to provide a comprehensive snapshot of the MMIWG crisis in urban American Indian and Alaska Native communities and the institutional practices that allow them to disappear not once, but three times—in life, in the media, and in the data. Annita Lucchesi (Southern Cheyenne), PhD-c and Abigail Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), MA.


Report from National Institute of Justice Research Report

“Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women and Men 2010 Findings from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey” (May 2016)

NIJ published the latest research report examining the prevalence of intimate partner and sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men.  Using a nationally representative sample from the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, the report provides estimates of sexual violence, physical violence by intimate partners, stalking, and psychological aggression by intimate partners. It also provides estimates of interracial and intraracial victimizations and briefly examines the impact of violence on the victims.

Written by André Rosay, Director of the Justice Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage.


DOWNLOAD PDF of 82-page Report: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/249736.pdf

Report from Quebec Native Women Inc.

“Naniawig Mamawe Ninawind-Stand with Us: Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women in Quebec.”

In 2014, the Quebec Native Women’s association was granted a small amount of money from the Quebec Ministry of Justice to work on the issue of MMIW in the province. Before moving forward though, our organization insisted that the question of MMIW in Quebec had not yet been documented, and needed to be in order to insure appropriate and adapted intervention. As such, the organization hired an Indigenous research assistant, and together, Annie Bergeron and Alana Boileau interviewed over fifty people to explore the matter of MMIW in the French speaking province.

Frontline workers, justice file holders, First Nations police, and MMIW family members alike highlighted the importance of understanding the complexity of the MMIW issue and its roots in the history of colonization; the existence of family violence in Indigenous communities that has to be recognized and fought against, but also contextualized and understood; the challenges of working in one’s own community and the lack of adapted services and material for social workers and others; the tense and loaded relationship between Indigenous people and the police; and lastly the need for better support for MMIW families.

The ”Stand with us” report ends with five courses of action: (1) supporting women and their families; (2) favouring collaboration between service providers; (3) educate and raise awareness about Indigenous women and their history; (4) focus on solidarity and mutual aid; (5) develop participative prevention and intervention strategies against violence.

Annie Bergeron, research officer, QNW, DIALOG intern

Alana Boileau, Justice and Public Security coordinator, QNW


Academic Paper: University of Ottawa

“An Awkward Silence: Missing and Murdered Vulnerable Women and the Canadian Justice System.” (Ottawa, Canada, 2013)

Maryanne Pearce, H.B.A (Waterloo), M.A. (Western)

The murders and suspicious disappearances of women across Canada over the past forty years have received considerable national attention in the past decade. The disappearances and murders of scores of women in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba have highlighted the vulnerability of women to extreme violence. Girls and women of Aboriginal ethnicity have been disproportionately affected in all of these cases and have high rates of violent victimization. The current socio-economic situation faced by Aboriginal women contributes to this.

To provide publicly available data of missing and murdered women in Canada, a database was created containing details of 3,329 women, including 824 who are Aboriginal. There are key risk factors that increase the probability of experiencing lethal violence: street prostitution, addiction and insecure housing. The vast majority of sex workers who experience lethal violence are street prostitutes. The dissertation examines the legal status and forms of prostitution in Canada and internationally, as well as the individual and societal impacts of prostitution. A review of current research on violence and prostitution is presented. The thesis provides summaries from 150 serial homicide cases targeting prostitutes in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. The trends and questions posed by these cases are identified.

The cases of the missing women of Vancouver and Robert Pickton are detailed. The key findings from the provincial inquiry into the missing women cases and an analysis of the most egregious failings of the investigations (Projects Amelia and Evenhanded) are discussed. Frequently encountered challenges and common errors, as well as investigative opportunities and best practices of police, and other initiatives and recommendations aimed at non-police agencies are evaluated. The three other RCMP-led projects, KARE, DEVOTE and E-PANA, which are large, dedicated units focused on vulnerable women, are assessed.

All Canadian women deserve to live free of violence. For women with vulnerable life histories, violence is a daily threat and a common occurrence. More must be done to prevent violence and to hold offenders responsible when violence has been done. This dissertation is a plea for resources and attention; to turn apathy into pragmatic, concrete action founded on solid evidence-based research.


Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (July 21, 2017) from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

“Racial and Ethnic Differences in Homicides of Adult Women and the Role of Intimate Partner Violence—United States, 2003-2014”


#WhyWeWearRed Social Media Campaign by Native Women in Film Media Coalition

“Why We Wear Red”

A National Global Campaign initiative that aims to bring awareness to Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, fight sexual harassment, assault, inequality for women in all kinds of workplaces, including Native Youth Matter-suicide prevention.


Reporting Guide by the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA)

“Covering the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in Indian Country.”

NAJA encourages journalists to consider the safety of victims, minors, families and tribal communities when reporting on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in Indian Country. Journalists must not only analyze the statistics but also explore the personal and historical narrative within their VAWA coverage. *Connection to covering MMIW.


Radio Interview with Native America Calling

“The Ongoing Tragedy of Missing Native American Women” (January 11, 2018)

The family of Ashley Loring HeavyRunner (Blackfeet) are desperate for information about the 21-year-old. She was last seen in June in Browning Montana. Also, family members of Olivia Lone Bear are offering a reward for information after the 33-year-old mother of five went missing from the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation in October. The two recent cases are a reminder of what advocates say is a serious issue. Canada has made strides in confronting the problem of missing and murdered Indigenous women. But there remain gaps in information and solutions about Native American women.


Radio Interview with Native America Calling

“Justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women remains elusive.” (November 29th, 2018)

A new analysis finds more than 500 cases of missing or murdered women and girls in the United States since 1943. The authors of the study from the Urban Indian Health Institute say that is likely far lower than the real number. They point to poor record-keeping, bad information- sharing between local and tribal law enforcement agencies, and institutional racism as the main barriers to getting the full picture. Any legislation at the federal level to help remedy the situation remains stalled. We’ll hear recommendations from the researchers and get updates from women’s advocates about this ongoing issue.


Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center (AKNWRC)

Beginning in April 2019, the Alaska Native Women's Resource Center (AKNWRC) will host monthly calls on MMIW with the goal of developing community action plans when a woman goes missing or is found dead from unnatural causes. We hope to put together a plan that includes information and action that can be undertaken to address the emotional needs, who to contact for answers, and what services can be available. It is clear that we need to act to raise awareness of these issues and to assist in finding answers and resolutions to promote healing within our communities.


The AKNWRC is dedicated to strengthening local, tribal government’s responses through community organizing efforts advocating for the safety of women and children in their communities and homes, especially against domestic and sexual abuse and violence.



National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)

The National Congress of American Indians Resolution #PHX-16-077 TITLE: Addressing Crisis of Missing and Murdered Native Women (October 2016)


Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.


Alliance of Tribal Coalitions To End Violence (ATCEV)

The ATCEV works to advance tribal sovereignty and safety of AI/AN women by providing support to tribal coalitions and tribal communities in their efforts to address equal justice for survivors of violence. The ATCEV includes a list of the tribal domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions across the country including contact information. Many of the tribal coalitions are committed to advocating and raising awareness around the MMIW issue.  http://www.atcev.org/

The Indian Law Resource Center (ILRC)

The Indian Law Resource Center has gone before the international body to speak specifically about MMIW and their project, Safe Women, Strong Nations partners with Native women’s organizations and Indian and Alaska Native nations to end violence against Native women and children.  Safe Women, Strong Nations:

•    raises awareness to gain strong federal action to end violence against Native women and children;

•    provides legal advice to Native women’s organizations and Indian nations on ways to restore tribal criminal authority; and

•    helps Indian and Alaska Native nations and Native women’s organizations increase their capacity to prevent violence and to hold perpetrators of violence on their lands accountable.


Indian Law Resource Center’s “Congressional Resolution Aimed at Creating Awareness on Missing and Murdered American Indian and Alaska Native Women” https://indianlaw.org/swsn/congressional-resolution-aimed-creating-awareness-missing-and-murdered-american-indian-and

The ILRC provides legal assistance to indigenous peoples of the Americas to combat racism and oppression, to protect their lands and environment, to protect their cultures and ways of life, to achieve sustainable economic development and genuine self-government, and to realize their other human rights. The Indian Law Resource Center seeks to overcome the grave problems that threaten Native peoples by advancing the rule of law, by establishing national and international legal standards that preserve their human rights and dignity, and by challenging the governments of the world to accord justice and equality before the law to all indigenous peoples of the Americas.


  • Sing Our Rivers Red (SORR) was founded in 2015. Over the years SORR has grown into a collective that cares about bringing awareness to murdered and missing Indigenous women. https://singourriversred.wordpress.com/
  • The REDress Project, focuses around the issue of missing or murdered Aboriginal women across Canada. It is an installation art project based on an aesthetic response to this critical national issue. The project seeks to collect 600 red dresses by community donation that will later be installed in public spaces throughout Winnipeg and across Canada as a visual reminder of the staggering number of women who are no longer with us. Through the installation I hope to draw attention to the gendered and racialized nature of violent crimes against Aboriginal women and to evoke a presence through the marking of absence. http://www.redressproject.org/
  • All My Relations Bring Her Home All My Relations Arts honors and strengthens relationships between contemporary American Indian artists and the living influence of preceding generations, between artists and audiences of all ethnic backgrounds, and between art and the vitality of the American Indian Cultural Corridor. http://www.allmyrelationsarts.com/bring-her-home/
  • The Red and Blues music video “Missing (Live & Acoustic)” (November 18, 2015). This is an acoustic rendition of our song Missing. This song is for the missing and murdered Indigenous Women, our hearts go out to everybody affected by these tragedies. https://youtu.be/0GwKKcuktzQ
  • “Performance for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.” (November 29, 2016). In October, Canada’s unions staged a unique and powerful performance with music by A Tribe Called Red, video, holograms and dance to honour Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women.  https://youtu.be/q_vqlZJofo0
  • “Dance on film to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.” (December 12, 2017). Bear Creek Secondary School's Grade 12 Dance Composition class created this dance on film. It honours missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Bear Creek student Keira Benyi directed and edited the film and students in the class created the choreography. https://youtu.be/MOoL5VBdIQk
  • Fairness Works Championing Justice for Indigenous Women. Over the last decade, Canada’s unions have actively supported calls from Indigenous women, their families, leaders and communities for a national inquiry into the cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. http://www.fairnessworks.ca/missing-murdered-indigenous-people/
  • “Taken the Series” (2018) Riveting, spine-chilling, important television, Taken confronts, head-on, the clues that link the stories of these missing and murdered women and the hope of all Canadians to resolve this tragic reality for Indigenous women, and for our nation. https://www.takentheseries.com/